La Union

Interesting article about the mining town of La Union, located near to Cartagena.

La Union - Murcia - Spain

La Union is situated in the region of Murcia. Its history is dominated by the lead, silver, zinc and iron ore mines. The mining in this area was some of the richest in the Mediterranean and has mapped out the economic, social and cultural development of this whole region. The writer and painter, A. Saez named La Union as an amazing place. To some people the landscape may seem bleak but to others bleakness is wonderful. The mine workings of the mountain ranges date back to prehistoric times in the settlements of Atalaya and Mina Balsa. In Roman times hundreds of slaves worked in the mines in this area.

The archaeological remains of the Roman villa in Portman (from the Latin portus magnus - great port) are an indication of the peak of this past activity. After Roman times, there came a period of several centuries when these mines were un-worked. At the beginning of the 19th century in El Garbanzal (later to become La Union) the mining was very low key and then in the 1940’s the mining boom took off and together with the underground mining, the smelting of ores became a growing industry. This increased the population which led to large scale changes.

The buildings constructed during the mining peak are easy to recognise because they were built in plain brick. The most characteristic symbols of the Sierra Minera are the pithead frames, which enabled materials and people to move up and down the shafts. These shafts were also used for ventilation and to improve the internal environment conditions for the mine workers. The chimney’s main aim was to eject smoke from the steam engines which were used to lift and lower equipment. Today, these chimneys are quite a prominent feature on the landscape.

La Union is a town with some beautiful architecture. The workers’ high school (Liceo de Obreros) was built in 1901 and today the building houses the mining museum. It was originally built as a charitable centre for needy workers and their children.

Over the main entrance there is a monumental pediment bearing emblems of mining and the arts. The museum itself is a fascinating collection of tools, scale models and documents which, along with photography, gives an insight in to the mining life of this area. La Union is a region steeped not only in ancient history but also has a fascinating industrial past.

Besides the folklore richness of this area, La Union is the base for the National Flamenco Contest in August, which has gained worldwide recognition.

For more information about this area and its fiestas call the Tourist Information Office on 968 541 614.

You can also visit The Environmental Park at Huerto Pio - Cartagena, La Manga, Calblanque and San Javier.

Article provided by kind permission of The Leader Newspaper

La Union Links: La Union Map

Nearby Places: Calblanque - Torre Pacheco - Roda - Portman Bay

Golf Courses: Roda Golf Resort - Mar Menor Golf Resort - Spain Golf Courses

Related: Murcia - Cartagena - Los Alcazares - Mar Menor - San Javier - La Manga - Mazarron - Murcia Airport Transfers - Builders